Many people have that someone, that person who came along, noticed their inherent talent, and encouraged them to take it to the next level. For budding artist Allie Guard, that someone is Seed Strategy SVP, Creative Director Jeff Johns.
“We always saw Allie’s art as something for her and her family, but not ‘art’ art,” said Guard’s father and former Seed VP and Creative Director Bob Guard. “Jeff was able to see that, and (my wife) and I were smart enough to listen to him when he suggested that (she) show her work.”
“Jeff would say, ‘Wow’ and that he liked it,” Allie Guard, who has Down syndrome, said.
In typical creative director fashion, Johns challenged Guard to see her art as something more. A graphic designer by day and fine artist by night, he collaborated with her on PatterMan™, a painting that was on display in a Covington, Ky. gallery this summer.
“To change the frame of reference, I took sections of her work and painted around them,” Johns said. “By changing the perspective, it gave her work more wall presence and made it more Allie, more ownable.”
Allie Guard’s ownable work consists of black and white prints that she transforms into vibrant pieces of art using colored pencils.
“She’s in her happy place when she does it,” Johns said. “I think it puts her mind at ease and she’s amazed at how much time flies when she’s in the zone.”
According to Allie Guard, Johns wants her “to be the best I can be.”
“I think she uses more color and colors more brightly now,” said her father.
“What I tell people is that you can’t make a mistake,” said Johns. “Most people are afraid of painting, but every mistake is good and you can build off of them for a killer painting. Don’t worry if the eye’s too big; focus on the strokes, the colors.”
Johns states that his career as an artist has helped him take more risks as a designer.
“In graphic design, anything can be fixed with the undo button. But I try to roll with the punches, work with mistakes. It’s helped me try a lot of new things, work with more colors and shapes and bring dimension to the design that makes it a visual treat,” said Johns.
More than anything though, Guard said her long friendship with Johns has encouraged her the most.
“He likes my art and I like his art. We’re really good friends,” she said.